Anatomy and Function of the Knee

The three bones that compromise the knee joint are the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap). The knee may be described as a modified hinge joint, similar to the hinge on a door. However, the knee not only bends back and forth like a hinge, it has a complex rotational component that occurs with fluxion and extension of the knee. The knee is a major weight-bearing join that is help together by muscles, ligaments, and other important soft tissue. Cartilage is the material inside the joint that provides shock absorption to the knee during weight-bearing activities such as walking or stair climbing.

The Arthritic Knee

Arthritis in the knee joint occurs as a result of degeneration of the cartilage in your knee. Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis or degenerative arthritis, and is the most common cause for total knee replacement surgery. Due to osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee beaks down over time and the result is a severely damaged joint surface with bone rubbing on bone. This process may occur as a result of previous trauma to the joint, ligament instability, or abnormal stresses to the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory process that results in erosion of the particular cartilage and subsequent damage to the knee joint surface.


Over-the-counter (OT) pills such as acetaminophen, like Tylenol®, or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like Aleve® and Motrin®, may be taken for OA knee pain. Prescription NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors. like Celebrex®, may also be effective. However, there may be side effects from prolonged use of OTC or prescription medication, including stomach problems and increased risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney problems.

Viscosupplements - 1 Injection Therapy

Knee injections that supplement your knee fluid and relieve pain are called viscosupplements. Previously 3-5 injections were required. Now Synvisc-On® can provide up to six months of pain relief with just one injection.

Euflexxa - 3 Injection Therapy

Another kind of treatment for OA knee pain, called hyaluronic acid. It helps lubricate, protect and cushion the knee. It can reduce pain and help improve your ability to perform everyday activities.

Steroid injections

These injections are used to temporarily relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Typically doctors limit the number of steroid injections due to the potential risk of cartilage damage with frequent, long term use.


This option is often considered when knee pain is severe and other treatments have not provided relief.

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